Southwestern Wisconsin has some of the most scenic bicycling routes in the country. If you are planning a bike ride with your family this summer, be sure to fuel your body with healthy snacks so that you have enough energy to enjoy your ride. The carbohydrate (or glycogen) stores in your liver become depleted after exercising for about two hours. After that, your body starts to break down muscle for energy. If you are planning on a long bike ride, it is important to have a small snack every 20 to 30 minutes to replete your glycogen stores. Here are some healthy and portable snack ideas to bring along on your next bike ride:
1. Fresh fruit, such as bananas, are packed with potassium and carbohydrates. They are portable and won’t melt. Other options include: pears, apples, grapes, or dried fruit.
2. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are easy to make and are a good source of carbohydrate, protein and fat. If you don’t like peanut butter, you can substitute it with almond butter or sunflower butter. Another option is a whole-grain tortilla topped with cheese.
3. Trail mix with dried fruits and nuts provide carbohydrates, potassium, protein and healthy fats. Alternatively, you could bring granola bars, whole grain crackers, pretzels, or popcorn.
4. Many people like energy bars, chews or gels. They are convenient, but can also be expensive. Look for energy bars made with whole grains, dried fruits and nuts.
5. Tuna pouches are an excellent source of protein and healthy fats. Because they are vacuum sealed, they do not require refrigeration before opening. Turkey or beef jerky is another great protein source.
6. Make sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Drink at least 4 cups of water before your bike ride so that you’ll start out well hydrated. If your bike ride will last longer than one hour, you should bring a sports drink to replace the electrolytes lost through sweat. A good rule of thumb is to drink 2 cups of fluid for every hour of biking.
After your bike ride, you should have a snack within 30-60 minutes of exercise to refuel. This is important to repair muscle tissue and to replete glycogen stores. Your snack should contain a mix of carbohydrates, protein and fat. Some good option include: low fat yogurt topped with fresh fruit and nuts, peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole grain bread, hummus on whole-wheat pita bread, or string cheese and apple slices.